Despite not being crowned Miss Universe, Spain’s Angela Ponce had her own “winning moment” on stage as she was given a standing ovation by an ecstatic crowd in Bangkok on Monday.
Ponce, the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe, was emotional in the video highlight that was shown during the finale.
In the clip, she shared her advocacy of representing diversity as she hopes of living “in a world of equality for everyone.”
“Simply for us all to understand that we are human and that we must make all our lives easier together. That reality for many people is going to change. If I can give that to the world, I don’t need to win Miss Universe, I only need to be here,” she said.
Philippines’ Catriona Gray, who was crowned this year’s Miss Universe, has been vocal about her support for Ponce amid the controversy over transgender inclusion in the pageant.
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In an interview with ABS-CBN back in July, Gray said Ponce has earned the right to represent her country.
“If that contestant can go through the casting process, become a candidate, and earn the right to represent her country, then why not? Who are we to say, ‘You know that’s wrong.’ I mean it’s the discretion of the organization,” she noted.
She also said she would love to ask Ponce about her experience and challenges.
“I would love to hear her personal experience on the battlefront of being a transgender woman,” she said.
In another interview just a month before the pageant, Gray acknowledged the voice that Ponce represents.
“I’m open to it because individually, I see beauty queens more than a physical aspect,” she said on the local show “The Bottomline.”
“We represent something — that has to be what we’re there for. And she has a purpose. She is that voice for the transgender community.”
“If she can further educate people about what are the needs of the transgender community to get us to be more compassionate towards them… I have close friends who are transgender, so I’ve heard their experiences, and there is a lot of work to be done in how we come towards them,” Gray added.
“She didn’t just wake up one day and was like, ‘I feel like being a woman!’ She feels it in herself. That is who she is,” she further noted.
Gray and Ponce would later cross paths in Bangkok and appeared to have instantly hit it off, with the Spanish candidate referring to the Filipina as her “Miss Universe sister” on Instagram.